Westfield Simple Assault Attorney
July 8, 2020
Simple assault happens every day across the United States and in New Jersey. The Town of Westfield is no different from anywhere else when it comes to this type of assault offense. While Westfield is known as one of the best places to live, with a population of 30,000, simple assault simply happens. Whether it’s an issue of domestic violence, family feuds, or fights among strangers or friends, it happens. Unfortunately, this belies the often serious repercussions for those charged and convicted of these offenses. If you have been accused of simple assault, our experienced Westfield criminal defense attorneys will leave no stone unturned when defending your cause in court. We will review the complaint, the witness statements, the evidence of your alleged conduct, and the circumstances surrounding the offense to assess and determine the best course of action. With many simple assault cases successfully handled in Westfield Municipal Court, we have the knowledge and practical skill you want on your side. Call (908) 838-0150 to discuss your case with a lawyer now. A member of our team is available to provide you with a free consultation.
Charges for Simple Assault 2C:12-1 in Westfield NJ
To be found guilty of simple assault the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty. The case is tried in front of one judge, not a jury. At the trial, the judge decides, based on the evidence presented, whether the acts, if committed, amount to simple assault. Specifically, to be found guilty the prosecutor must prove that you:
1) Attempted to cause, or did in fact, cause an injury to someone while doing so purposely, knowingly, or recklessly;
2) Caused an injury negligently with a deadly weapon; or
3) Caused another to be in fear of immediate physical injury.
Sentences and Collateral Consequences of a Westfield Simple Assault Offense
Almost everyone has witnessed, heard of, or committed simple assault at one point or another, because virtually anything that causes pain can be deemed an offense under the statute. Perhaps the fact that it is common explains why it is a disorderly persons offense and not a felony crime in New Jersey. Although it is a lower-level criminal offense, this does not mean that the direct or collateral consequences are less than troublesome.
Simple assault is heard in the Westfield Municipal Court. After the charges are filed against you, the case takes its course and you will typically have multiple court appearances. Ultimately, a finding of guilt allows the judge to sentence you within the guidelines provided by law, specifically in N.J.S.A 2C:12-1(a). Possible sentences for simple assault include 6 months in the county jail, probation, anger management classes, a combination of probation and jail, fines up to $1,000, court costs, or something more beneficial like an abeyance, discharge, or dismissal.
Restraining Orders based on Simple Assault in Westfield
Not all cases are as simple as going to court once and completing the case. Some cases drag on, and others force you into Union County Family Court to fight against a restraining order. For instance, if the simple assault that you have been charged with is connected to domestic violence, you may face additional consequences. In this situation, your case will be heard in Family Court in Union County. Here, the judge will listen to you and the alleged victim to determine whether you committed an act of domestic violence and whether the victim is afraid and should be granted a final restraining order. This makes things complicated because in addition to the penal consequences, you could be restrained from ever returning home, stopped from visiting with your children, and be potentially subject to financial burdens of spousal support, child support, and/or paying the victim’s legal fees. Worst of all, if the judge thinks you are a danger, you could be held in jail until your case is heard and completed. For more about detention hearings in Union County, make sure to visit our dedicated page on the topic.
Defense & Prosecution for Westfield Simple Assault Allegations
Fortunately, while there may be negative impacts at first, the court cannot sentence you unless the state meets its burden of proof. The prosecutor must call the alleged victim to testify about what happened. Your guilt or innocence often hinges on the believability of the victim, which is also known as credibility. In fact, in most cases, there is not much direct proof of the assault and it comes down to a “he said/she said” argument. As hard as it may be, you must understand that testimony is often all that is required in these cases and that you can be convicted upon the word of another.
However, there are things we can do to combat the smoke and mirrors presented by the prosecution. For instance, if the victim says that you slapped them hard across the face but there are no photos or video to back it up, we will cross-examine them, attempting to expose inconsistencies or other issues that make them less credible. In other circumstances, there may be direct proof of the assault such as a video, mark on the face, picture, and corroborating witness testimony. But it is also possible that the alleged victim did not tell the entire story, excluding the fact that they attacked you first and you were merely defending yourself. Through careful cross-examination, we can poke holes in the state’s case.
Even if the judge finds that you were both engaged in a fight with one another, at best, it would be considered a mutual fight which is a petty disorderly persons (PDP) offense. A petty disorderly persons offense is the lowest form of a criminal offense. If found guilty of this lesser offense, you could receive a 30-day jail sentence, $500 in fines, and even probation.
Charged with Simple Assault in Westfield, Now What?
No matter what, when you have been charged with simple assault, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. Although often intimidating to you or your loved one, our lawyers are extremely familiar with Westfield Municipal Court and the Union County Superior Court and the steps involved in successfully resolving your case. Protect yourself. Contact our office at (908) 838-0150 to schedule an appointment or speak with a Westfield simple assault lawyer in a free consultation today.